More on John Yoo's Criticism of the Clinton Administration:
I mentioned John Yoo's 2000 essay on the Clinton Administration's view of executive power in my earlier post, and while it's not online, I did find a video of him presenting the paper at the Cato Institute
. The substance of Yoo's talk begins around the 26:30 mark. It's very interesting to watch. At the 28:30 mark, Yoo states his basic view that the Clinton Administration's foreign policy has undermined the rule of law in three fundamental ways:
First, I think, in order to achieve their foreign policy goals, the Clinton Adminisitration has undermined the balance of powers that exist in foreign affairs, and have undermined principles of democratic accountability that executive branches have agreed upon well to the Nixon Administration. The second thing is that the Clinton Administration has displayed a fundmental disrespect for the rule of law. Not in the sense that they don't make legal arguments to defend their positions, but the legal arguments are so outragous, they're so incredible, that they actually show, I think, a disrespect for the idea of law, by showing how utterly manipulable it is. And the the third thing is a matter of consistency. I think one of the things the rule of law demands is that people be consistent, and that institutions be consistent in their legal positions. And I think the Clinton Administration, as I'll discuss in a moment, has been wildly inconsistent. It has gone to the point of disavowing previous executive branch opinions, and when it does things that it finds so inconvenient legally that it overturns too much law, it just doesn't say anything at all, and goes ahead and does what it intends to do anyway.
Yoo's first example is the Clinton Administration's creative intrepretation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty in early 2000. The treaty blocked building an ABM system, but the Clinton Administration wanted to start building a radar system that would be the beginning of an ABM system. According to Yoo, the Clinton avoided the treaty obligations by interpreting the treaty implausibly to allow for building radar that might be the beginning of an ABM system. Yoo criticizes this creative executive interpretation for "trampling on the Senate's role" in making treaties and avoiding having to go through a democratic process to change governing policy.
Yoo's second example is Administration's expansive approach to executive war powers, and the fact that the Administration was eager to act without Congressional approval in deploying troops. Yoo argues that the Clinton Administration was "one of the ones that most easily goes for the gun in foreign affairs" among recent Presidential Administrations, and states that while most Presidents had "never admitted" that the War Powers Act was constitutional and binding on the Executive Branch, they had always complied with it anyway until Clinton violated the Act in Kosovo. Yoo criticizes the Clinton Administration for never offering a public explanation for its apparent violation of the War Powers Act.
Finally, Yoo criticizes "liberal academics" for their failure to criticize the Clinton Administration for taking these steps. Yoo suggests that these liberal academics are only interested in opposing conservative Administrations, and that they have been silent in Clinton's case because they approve of his politics. Yoo ends with a criticism of the Clinton Administration's willingness to cede U.S authority to international law and international organizations.